The Beer Drop: Forbidden Root Ghost Tropic


We first got to know West Town’s Forbidden Root last October when we had the opportunity to feature one of my favorite beers of all time, Snoochie Boochies, as our Beer Drop. Since then, the brewery has made a few key changes – most notably bringing on a new head brewer, Nick Williams, and launching a fresh series of beers – so naturally, it was time for a revisit!

We recently chatted with Nick to catch up on what’s new at FR, what makes their hazy beers so damn good, get a glimpse into daily life at the brewery, and of course, the skinny on this week’s beer – the juicy Ghost Tropic from their hazy series.

Read on for our conversation, and be sure to order up your Ghost Tropic now – this release will be gone again before you know it. Cheers!

Tell us about Ghost Tropic – best served, tasting notes?

It’s bright, while still maintaining a massive creamy and juicy aspect. Tons of tropical and stone fruit aromas coming from ridiculous amounts of Mosaic, Amarillo, and Chinook hops.   

Ghost Tropic should be served somewhere in the mid to high 40 degree range. As with most hazy/juicy/New England beers, it presents best in a stemmed tulip or snifter. We serve it in a juice glass at the pub – it’s kind of a fun homage to how juice-like these beers are. Ghost Tropic does great with a whole host of food pairing options. Our chef makes an incredible burrata with farro right now that I think pairs amazingly well. 

And Strawberry Basil Hefeweizen?

Strawberry Basil Hefeweizen is one of our ‘core’ beers at Forbidden Root. We designed it to be ultimately drinkable and fruity, which we feel we’ve accomplished! Great for taking to the beach, park, out on a boat, or paired with your favorite dish at home or in the neighborhood.  

On Forbidden Root

How’d you first get into craft beer?

I’ve been into craft beer for most of my adult life, in some shape or form. I managed a craft beer bar in North Carolina throughout college, which eventually led to working for a local craft distributor, and finally I decided to put myself through the Siebel program here in Chicago. This was circa 2007.  

You guys have made some changes since we last featured Snoochie Boochies in October…what’s new??

First and foremost, we’ve had a change of brewers at Forbidden Root. I started here in early January of 2018, and our part-time brewer Phil Zelewsky came on full time to help keep things running. We’ve also started work on a new series of beers that we’re calling Assembly Required. The series sticks with the hazy theme and incorporates a kettle soured based that is fruited as well.

Your Hazy Series has developed a strong following over the past couple of years – what made the brewery decide to start canning this line, and how do you see that side of the business progressing in the future?

The hazy/juicy/NEIPAs are a pretty great fit for us. Fun, creative, and sometimes weird beers are what we’ve set out to do at Forbidden Root and these beers allow us to be fun and creative with our hopping techniques. We like to think that our hazy beers stack up really well next to some of the larger name producers in the country. We’ve begun rotating six of these beers into canning and distribution on a loose schedule throughout the year and the response has been great. We’re still fitting in some new and exciting hazy offerings in throughout the year, and may bring some of those out in cans in the future. For the moment, they’re only available at special events and the pub at 1746 West Chicago Ave.  

How are you involved with the community around the brewery?

Forbidden Root is in West Town on Chicago Avenue. In terms of both community and brewery interactions we try to make a point of getting out of the brewery and getting ourselves to events. We have a fantastic sales team, as well as Marketing Coordinator, Tori Mason and her team of Brand Ambassadors making it out to as many festivals and tastings as we can manage, many of them benefiting non-profit and charity organizations.  

What’s your favorite thing about Forbidden Root?

I think the collaborative effort of the whole business is one of my favorite things about Forbidden Root. It’s often a huge pain the ass to find a middle ground with all the different perspectives we have around the table, but ultimately we come up with a better project having heard each other out.  

How do you measure success there?

In my mind we measure success at Forbidden Root by both the end product and the reactions of our customers. Looking around the pub and seeing a crowd of people from all over enjoying our beer and food definitely gives you the warm fuzzies. We work hard to see that reaction from our customers and it’s always rewarding to see.  

What’s the vibe like at the brewery? How do you keep things fun?

Really, the small day to day arguments are the fun stuff around here. As far as people on the ground (at the brewery) every day we have some majorly different backgrounds and personalities. The ability of Nick and Phil to frustrate Brian, the General Manager of the pub, to a point of speechlessness over a weird or irreverent beer name is always great. He’s rarely speechless. Unknowingly, the brewery has consented to some beer names that were Justin Timberlake lyrics. It’s a give and take!

What’s the weirdest thing FR has been tagged in on social media?

I had to ask Tori about this one. Apparently we were tagged recently to a photo of a naked man, in an apron, holding a can of Strawberry Basil Hefeweizen. That’s just amazing. I was honestly unaware of this until I asked. Might be the best thing I’ve heard all week!

Nick – great to meet you, and thanks for taking the time to update us on all things Forbidden Root! Be sure to order up this week’s Ghost Tropic sooner than later, and stop by the restaurant and brewery to try even more of their hazy offerings.

1,257 check-ins and counting – toast (or roast) what Sean’s been drinking here. Have a beer or brewery you think should be our next drop? Hit us up ✉